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Munday, Jeremy, ed.

The Routledge Companion to [


Translation Studies. London: Routledge, 2009.]
EL 170: Book Review
Franklyn L. Mollejn

Jeremy Mundays Companion to Translation Studies is an anthology of lengthy
elaborate essays by leading experts and scholars in translation and interpreting
studies subsuming topics that have recently emerged in relation to the field such as
cognitive psychology, cultural studies, technology and audio-visual translation.
Concomitantly, the emergence of these subjects, enriching and stimulating this new
academic discipline would supersede old literature that had been mostly steeped of
the linguistic and textual aspects of the process of translation, thus repudiating the
early assertions which stress that it is just a substrate of linguistics. Furthermore, this
would also foreground that translation is an interdisciplinary process involving not
just the textual aspects but as well as the extra-linguistic elements of a text. Its
interdisciplinary nature notwithstanding has enabled itself to evolve into an
independent field as evinced by the rise of academic institutions furthering its
intellectual scholarship.
In the first part of the book, Munday takes pains to provide a brief yet
encapsulating account of the history of translation starting from the Roman
rhetorician and orator Marcus Tullius Cicero and the Bible translator St. Jerome up to
the present. Hence, the author wants its readers to have a backdrop of the
fundamental theoretical underpinnings of the discipline which is significant before
proceeding to any academic pursuit by explicating the methods used as well as the
basic problems with which these early translators were confronted.
Likewise, he also defines what translation is all about. His definitions
illuminate the canonized and widely used tripartite signification of translation (
Intralingual, Interlingual and Intersemiotic). This way of defining translation is
essential to invalidating the common (mis)signification of the process which is simply
a transfer and interpretation of verbal signs by means of some other language.
Correspondingly, translation may also transpire within the same language which is
normally used to make a complicated text simple so that it becomes intelligible for a
particular set of target readers
1
. Moreover, translation is also helpful for those who
are not capable of reading or writing (because of physical disabilities) thus enabling

1
An example for this would be the intralingual translation of Shakespeares works from old English into modern
English.
Munday, Jeremy, ed. The Routledge Companion to [
Translation Studies. London: Routledge, 2009.]
EL 170: Book Review
Franklyn L. Mollejn

these incapable people to understand a text through the process of intersemiotic
translation
2
.
Evaluating the content of the book, the essays are vital to understanding the
new and emerging issues that translation has encountered. Fused with theoretical
backgrounds backed up with empirical studies, translation has been regarded by
these scholars as a sophisticated academic discipline with ostensible reference to the
cognitive processes transpiring in a translators mind as he carries out the process of
translation. Albir and Alves, through their article Translation as a Cognitive Activity
posit new perspectives concerning the process of translation. The premise of their
arguments is basically that it involves not just linguistic intelligence but as well as the
coordination of other mental faculties that humans have. And this postulation is
apparently a reiteration of the aforementioned assertion that translation is an
interdisciplinary process.
Along with this fresh perspective towards the discipline is the rise of models of
translation whose common element is that the process requires certain skills, with
special reference to the capability of the translator to use all of his available
intelligences (the declarative and procedural knowledge) simultaneously in order to
render a good translation. The emphasis on this translation competence can be seen
by the imposition of skills and abilities that a professional translator should have by
well-reputable academic institutions specializing in translation studies
3
.
Another article in the book that is worthy of inclusion here is Theo Hermans
Translation, Ethics and Politics which basically considers translation as political
activity. In analysing translated texts, one must be able to answer questions such as
who commissioned the translation, to whom does the translation serve and who are
the translators. These questions presuppose that translation is a decision-making
activity. Additionally, the article also stresses the idea that there can never be an
objective translation since it is ineluctably influenced by the translators subjectivity,
developing an interpretation of a text which is an amalgam of linguistic and cultural

2
An interpretation of verbal signs by means of nonverbal sign systems.
3
Such as PACTE of Universidad Autonoma de Barcelona.
Munday, Jeremy, ed. The Routledge Companion to [
Translation Studies. London: Routledge, 2009.]
EL 170: Book Review
Franklyn L. Mollejn

elements. And the way the translator processes these elements are political in
nature.
One important discussion in the article is the emergence of the English as a
source language of translation (and sometimes a target). The author warns that one
of the pitfalls of translation is the assumption that the way the speakers of the
English language think is as similar as to those of the other languages. This is the
danger when it comes to translating literary works. It also diminishes the interest
towards learning foreign languagse as a result of the thinking that languages are
universal possessing only little differences.
Also, the last part of the book which lists down all the essential concepts in
translation with its corresponding definitions is noteworthy. Its a helpful tool to
throw light to the readers about from the basic to the most complex conceptual
nature of translation.
While the content of the book may not fully cover all the contemporary issues
that the discipline of translation has faced, this book is definitely a good read
especially for those who are furthering in the study of the intricate process of
translation. Moreover, the vicissitudes of the theoretical underpinnings of
translation supports the fact that there is still so much to know and to research
about this field. And if one embarks on this field of study, one must take into account
the interdependency of translation, and that it requires help from other branches of
knowledge not just from linguistics but important from history, sociology, cultural
studies and interestingly cognitive psychology.